From an unusual fear of crowded places or open spaces to a persistent fear of spiders or social situations, many of us have phobias or above-average fears which cause undue anxiety and can even hamper they way we behave or lead our lives.
According to the mental health charity Mind, a phobia is a type of anxiety disorder. It is an extreme form of fear or anxiety triggered by a particular situation (such as going outside) or object (such as spiders), even when there is no danger.
The NHS says: “A phobia is an overwhelming and debilitating fear of an object, place, situation, feeling or animal. Phobias are more pronounced than fears. They develop when a person has an exaggerated or unrealistic sense of danger about a situation or object. If a phobia becomes very severe, a person may organise their life around avoiding the thing that’s causing them anxiety. As well as restricting their day-to-day life, it can also cause a lot of distress.”
It adds that a phobia is a type of anxiety disorder and Mind says it can be difficult to know when to seek treatment for a phobia.
“If avoidance of the object, activity or situation that triggers your phobia does interfere with your everyday life, or keeps you from doing things you would otherwise enjoy, it may be time to seek help,” says the charity.
Mind says a person who thinks they have a phobia should consider getting treatment if they have an intense and disabling fear, anxiety or panic; if they recognise that the fear is out of proportion to the danger; if they avoid certain situations and places because of the phobia and if this avoidance interferes with normal routine or causes significant distress.
The National Council for Hypnotherapy, which has almost 2,000 highly-trained hypnotherapists across the UK, says by using hypnotherapy, the phobia is seen in a different context. The therapist will let the sufferer see their fear from an objective perspective and then gradually build up exposure from a minimal to comfortable level.
Using hypnosis, this can be done rapidly as the unconscious is able to process information more effectively without the interference of the critical mind. This is a known as desensitisation.
“Each hypnotherapist may use a slightly different approach to treating phobias depending on whether you know when the phobia first started, how you view it and how receptive you are to change,” says the NCH, adding that the therapist will evaluate the level of the phobia and then use a combination of techniques to help resolve it.
This can be done by gradually building up the person’s confidence and ability to stay calm when confronted with a situation that brings on the phobia. There is, adds the NCH, no guarantee as change depends on the person’s willingness to embrace it. Most therapists will try to give a realistic expectation of how long treatment may last.
If you think you might have a phobic condition which is changing the way you behave, contact an NCH therapist by clicking here – it could change your outlook on life.